Abstract

General practitioners have implicitly been given responsibility for guiding men’s decisions about prostate-specific antigen–based screening for prostate cancer, but patients’ expectations of the bounds of this responsibility remain unclear. We sought to explore how well-informed members of the public allocate responsibilities in prostate-specific antigen screening decision-making. In 2014, we convened two Community juries in Sydney, Australia, to address questions related to the content and timing of information provision and respective roles of patients and general practitioners in screening decisions. Participants in the first jury were of mixed gender and of all ages (n = 15); the participants in the second jury were all male and of screening age (n = 12). Both juries were presented with balanced factual evidence on the harms and benefits of prostate-specific antigen screening and expert perspectives on ethico-legal aspects of consent in medical practice. In their deliberations, jurors agreed that general practitioners should take responsibility for informing men of the options, risks and benefits of prostate-specific antigen testing, but arrived at different positions on whether or not general practitioners should also guide screening decisions. Jurors also disagreed on how much and when general practitioners should provide detailed information about biopsies and treatments. These responses suggest that for prostate-specific antigen testing, there is a public expectation that both the allocation of responsibility between general practitioners and their male patients, and the level of information provided will be tailored to individual men. In the presence of expert uncertainty, a well-informed public may have reason to embrace or resist shared decision-making processes.

Keywords

bioethics, cancer and palliative care, organisation of health services, patient–physician relationship, risk and health

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